Early in October, we spent part of Washoe County’s fall break with a group of students at our Introduction to Research Camp. These students are from the Reno/Carson area, and they came to Davis Creek Regional Park to learn about science, and conduct research.
This program was funded by a grant from Bass Pro Shop and Cabelas. Offering camps and other programs at a low cost is made possible through grants like this, and we are grateful to Bass Pro Shop and Cabelas for funding this camp and helping us reach more students.
We had beautiful early fall weather, and the streams in the park were still flowing, inspiring students to come up with questions on a variety of topics. One group spent the weekend filtering water and measuring pH and total dissolved solids to test water quality, while another group tested fertility of soil at different distances from water sources. The third group was interested in how sunlight affects soil moisture and pH, and what impact that might have on plants. Facilitating this exploration and curiosity in students at a park close to where they all live can be especially impactful because they can bring their findings and knowledge back to their homes and continue to make connections in their own environment.
We spent the evenings telling stories and eating s’mores around a campfire, and showcasing the students’ talents at a talent show. These fun and community building aspects of camp were reflected in conversations with students at the end of the weekend with one student expressing that “my favorite part of camp was meeting new friends” before adding “collecting data was fun too.” The groups presented their findings to their parents at the end of the weekend, and all the students were excited to share their findings, as well as tell their parents stories from the weekend. Students shared that they “learned about the steps to come up with a good answer to a question”, and that “science is about more than just testing things, there’s a lot of steps to it”.